Abe's career as a bamboo artist began auspiciously. Right out of high
school, he studied with Shono Shounsai, Japan's first Living National
Treasure in bamboo arts.
"My apprenticeship to master Shounsai was a very difficult two years," Abe
recalls. "He was so great an artist that I felt I was inferior. It took me
well over 10 years to get over those feelings. I realized, after all, I can
only be myself. Nothing more, nothing less. My master said to me before
passing away in 1974, `It takes a lot of patience to craft bamboo, so you
need a wife with lots of patience.' He said this as he introduced me to the
woman who was to become my wife. I owe him a great debt."
In 1967, Abe inherited his father's bamboo basket business. Less than a
decade later, he was admitted to the Japan Traditional Craft Arts
Exhibition and became a full member by 1980. He has won numerous prizes and
served as a judge for important regional shows. His work is part of the
permanent collections of the Beppu City Museum, the city where he was born,
and has been exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art and San
Francisco Asian Art Museum.
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